Which operating system will colonise the Internet of Things?

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Connecting ourselves to the Internet of Things (IoT) is a process still in motion -- this we know to be true.

As everything from traffic lights to fridges to cars to industrial turbines are empowered with electronic sensors and communication abilities, the "things" that make up the IoT need:

a) wider penetration into society,
b) an standardised set of services and protocols to operate upon,
c) software developers to target IoT apps and,
d) a plethora of other emerging factors too.

Some industry commentators believe that Android has greater potential to provide the unifying power needed here than any other single operating system.

If Android were to lead in the race to colonise the IoT, there would still need to be deep (perhaps kernel level) customisation features applied for the wildly different device types.

Electronic coffee machines "could" theoretically run on the same core operating system as highly sophisticated automobiles, but it's unlikely to be a 'rip and replace' cookie cutter job without bespoke augmentations.

Speaking to Computer Weekly Open Source Inside this weekend was Dana Blankenhorn of TheStreet.Com

Start thinking IoT

Blankenhorn asserts the following, "The Internet of Things is too big to be contained by one operating system. Anyone who isn't thinking interoperability isn't thinking."

Actually we may very likely find that building the right APIs and making sure those APIs have all the right gateways and features is more important than the operating system.

But then there is the Open Automotive Alliance (OAA). Announced this year at the CES show, this group seeks to champion Android for car IoT applications and currently includes Audi, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, NVIDIA and, logically, Google.

According to the group, "The OAA is aimed at accelerating auto innovation with an approach that offers openness, customisation and scale, key tenets that have already made Android a familiar part of millions of people's lives."

The OAA says that this open development model and common platform will allow automakers to more bring technology to drivers and create new opportunities for developers to deliver experiences for drivers and passengers.

Google itself notes the below:

"We're working with our partners to enable better integration between cars and Android devices in order to create a safer, car optimized experience. We're also developing new Android platform features that will enable the car itself to become a connected Android device. Stay tuned for more details coming soon."

Will Android win or will the best API proliferation win or will a variety of operating systems win just as they have done at the desktop and on mobile?

We're not done with this analysis, in fact we're barely into first gear.

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2 Comments

I think this is a simplified view of IoT. Sure, on a "gateway" of some description (Nest as an example.....I would argue that an infotainment platform in a car is a form of gateway too), Android is certainly an option. However, if you take the broader view of IoT, you have a wide range of very cheap things connected to the internet, many with no screen. An internet-connected sensor in a field, reporting out soil acidity, dampness etc....an intelligent plaster (band aid as I must say in the US!)...system cost and power constraints will mean Android is a non starter

Regards
@fergie_arm

Adrian, when people think about IoT the first thing comes to mind is small systems, i.e. small sensor boards with low end microcontrollers. Unfortunately neither Android or Linux will fit inside it.

Other alternatives like FreeRTOS, Chibios/RT comes to mind, but fortunately there is a new RTOS similar to Linux called NuttX.

NuttX is the best option for IoT.

BR,

@acassis

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This page contains a single entry by Adrian Bridgwater published on February 8, 2014 2:26 PM.

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